Chapter Five: Radio

Chapter Five: Radio

Spike sat on the couch in Xander's living room and set his ashtray and smokes on the coffee table.  After a moment's thought he lifted the trunk up there, too.  Then he unlaced his boots and took them off, shoving them under the table.  He tucked his feet up, cross legged, and finally, finally, reached out to the trunk and opened it.  The hinges were stiff and they protested loudly, and Spike winced a little.  He sat looking at the folds of red cloth that obscured the contents.  A smell came to him, over the must and damp of the rotting trunk.   Dru's scent, compounded of Florida Water and church incense and herself - musk, sweet, and licorice.  All faint, so faint but there and he breathed it in - leaned forward and pulled the red cloth out, burying his face in it. 

It was a hooded red-velvet cloak, lined in white satin.   Heart's Ease blooms had been embroidered along the edges and silver flowers fashioned the clasp.   Dru had loved that cloak - said it made her feel like Little Red Riding Hood, only she got to eat the wolf up, this time around.  She'd gotten it off an opera singer in Danzig, and had worn it for years, until they went East to China.  Spike hugged the soft folds to him, seeing the little tears along the hem, the places where time had unpicked the embroidery.  The white lining was cream-colored now, stained along the bottom edge with travel and damp and he breathed deeply of her lingering scent.   He petted the cloak then folded it over into his lap and leaned forward to the trunk again.  There were books - Balzac, Dumas, Austen, even a Hemmingway and Aldous Huxley - and several cloth-bound journals, green and blue and faded red.   Dru had read Freud's 'Interpretation of Dreams' and had started keeping dream journals.  There were at least ten of them, and Spike picked one up and leafed through it, skimming the yellowed pages filled with Dru's stiff, schoolgirl hand.  He read a phrase here and there, but it was mostly nonsense.  His own name caught his eye, and he read: "My Spike burns so brightly in the night I can hardly bear to look at him.  But the knight must throw down his armor if he is to win the hand of fair prince..."   Spike shook his head and put the books down on the coffee table, making a stack of them.   Under the leather bound novels were three or four penny dreadfuls.  They were so cheaply made that the binding disintegrated as Spike picked them up, and he was left with an untidy stack of crumbling paper.

Underneath were more things, loose in the trunk.   The stake that the Chinese Slayer had used; it was carved and polished, a beautiful thing.  Dru had carried it for years.  Some jewelry; rings and a necklace, things Dru had abandoned over the years as too familiar.   The same reason Spike had kept them.  He couldn't bear to see the delicate ring of garnet and gold filigree that Dru had worn for a decade tossed aside.  Or the necklace of pearls and emerald.  Worth a lot, those.  But he'd never sell.   No one else would ever wear these things.

He came to a thick brown-paper envelope and picked it up, hands shaking ever so slightly.  He knew what was in there - he dreaded it.  He held the package for a long time, turning it over and over in his hands.  Finally, sighing, he lifted the flap and slid the contents out into his lap. 

Pictures.  Of Dru, of the Family...his whole life, almost, in sepia and faded kodachrome.   The first one; Dru alone, taken not long after Angelus had turned her.  She still had the lost look of a child whose family has left her, and Miss Edith was new in her tight grip.  The next was the Family - Darla looking faintly supercilious, Angelus sternly patriarchal, Spike himself smirking against the direct orders of the photographer and Dru smiling her best smile, looking up through her lashes; one hand holding her doll and the other twined with Spike's.  Then Dru in gorgeous Mandarin robes, with a paper parasol and jeweled sticks holding her hair up, taken right before he'd killed his first Slayer.  Himself and Dru, at a nightclub in Berlin, the two of them forehead to forehead, eyes shut.  Spike closed his own eyes for a moment and then went on. 

*Only a few more now...nearly to the end.*   Spike leaning against a car - a Rolls-Royce skiff - with Dru looking out from the driver's seat, both of them grinning madly.  That was - London, 1931, and they'd lived at the hotel that was in the background for nearly two years, playing at being the eccentric artists.  The next was right after the Blitz, their first night in Casablanca.  Dru at a café table, a dark-eyed boy in native garb holding a tray of drinks and looking nervous.  Spike had taken that one, using Dru's special camera and nervous about blurring the image.  Then the both of them in New York, one of the few times Dru had consented to wear modern dress.   She was in something vaguely Hollywood - a fitted sheath of a dress, long gloves, high heels.  The emerald and pearl necklace.  Spike, in a tuxedo and gloves, held her arm.  That had been... some sort of coming-out party.   Debs in white cotillion dresses and matrons in pearls and tulle.  Tulle was slippery when it got bloody.

The last picture was one Dru had taken herself, which was the only reason Spike had kept it.  It was himself, punked out  in an alley behind CBGB's.  The neon from a nearby sign had made a strange sort of bloody halo behind him, and the reflected light from headlights and street lamps had spangled and glared in puddles, making it seem like he walked on crushed diamonds.  He had no shadow in this picture, somehow, and the exposure had made him white as salt, while at the same time shadowing his eyes.  He was faintly blurred, faintly transparent.   It was a strange picture - one only Dru could have taken.  Things just seemed to work that way, for her; anyone else would have gotten an uninteresting shot of a man walking past a doorway.  Dru captured a demon, a fallen angel - a soul.  Spike stared at the picture, remembering how much Dru had liked it.   Photography fascinated her, and she had taken rolls and rolls of film, and cut the bits she liked best out of the pictures and pasted them up on the walls of whatever place they were living at the time.  She'd made a half dozen of those kind of huge, unsettling murals, juxtaposing pictures of trees and torn paper and corpses, hundreds of pairs of hands, eyes, bloody mouths, city-scapes.   Some woman in Prague had wanted to cut the wall down, put it in a gallery.  Maybe she had.  They'd fled Prague not long after.

Spike was startled out of his reverie by Xander, who had very quietly walked in and set a mug of blood down on the table.  Spike looked up at him - at warm, dark eyes and a solemn expression.  Dark hair, dusky skin from days in the sun.  Like, and so unlike his Dru.  He smiled faintly at the boy and looked back at the trunk.

"I like that picture of you.  It's...just right."

"Yeah?  My Dru took it.  She had a knack for gettin' just the right...look, sometimes." Spike looked back at the picture - up at Xander again who was stepping away, leaving him to his memories.  He held the picture out.  "Here.  Why don't you have it?" Xander looked at him and then at the picture, obviously unsure if he should accept.  "Really.  I'd like you to." 

Xander smiled, and took it.  "Thanks.  I do like it a lot.  But..." He touched the photograph with one careful finger, then looked up at Spike.  "I thought - you can't take pictures of vampires."

"Oh, well, not with a camera with a mirror in it.  Dru met some queer little professor type in Berlin, he'd taken her picture and she thought he was a sorcerer.  She turned him.  As it happened, he just used this kind of camera - pin-hole camera - there's no mirror.  Just a box with a little hole an' you put the film inside and uncover the hole..."  Spike smiled up at Xander - looked down at the pictures he was holding.  "He made her one, really pretty, all cherry-wood and brass.  She loved it.  It got smashed in Prague."  Xander looked at him for a moment and then he went back into the kitchen, silent as a human could be.  Spike listened to his slow and steady heartbeat, and let it calm him.  That professor - Spike could never remember his name - had burned himself up three months into his undead life.  Sometimes curiosity was a bitch. 

There wasn't much left in the trunk - a few odds and ends.  A comb Dru had used to wear in her hair, programmes from three or four plays when they were in Munich.  A compact Dru had taken, the powder inside still faintly perfumed.  She'd taken it for the enameled bat on the lid, thinking it a great joke.  And one of her dolls - the nose worn down, dress in tatters.  The half-bare head was grubby and the eyes cracked.  Spike petted the sad thing then began to lay it all back, piece by piece.  He hesitated for a long time over the photos then he finally put them aside and lay the cloak on top of the rest, folding it carefully.  He shut the lid and picked up the mug and slowly drank.

*Surrounded by her scent - it's almost like she's here.  And I miss her, I miss her...  I ache for her.  But...I don't know if I love her, anymore.  All these bloody  things - all these memories - and I just don't know if it's love or loss...  If it's habit or...passion.  Oh Dru, Dru...  I'd have bloody killed myself for you, once upon a time.  Been anything - done anything.  And now.  Why did you turn me away?  Will I ever, ever not feel your absence like a fucking knife in my gut?*   Spike stared at the trunk, and weighed the packet of pictures in his hand, and finally he stood up and went into the kitchen.  Xander was sitting at the table, a can of soda in front of him, studying the picture of Spike.  In the back of the house the washing machine chugged quietly, and for a moment something almost like panic swept over him; panic and a feeling of unreality at this domestic - human - situation.  Xander looked up when Spike came in and smiled, and Spike felt a rush of warmth come over him.  A sense of...belonging that pushed the panic aside.   He put the pictures and the mug down on the table, and stood there for a moment.  Then he made up his mind.

"Would you help me with something?"

"Sure.  If I can."  No hesitation.  No questions. 

Spike felt relief sweep over him, and calm.  "I want...I want to burn the trunk." Xander's eyes flicked towards the living room, then back to Spike, serious and a little anxious.

"Are you sure?  You really want to burn her things?"

"Yeah, I'm sure.  It's...just too bloody heavy to lug around anymore." 

Xander gazed at him in silence for a moment, then nodded and stood up.  "Ok, Spike, sure.  We can go down to the beach.  There's always driftwood down there.  And they cut down a dead pine next door about a week ago.  It's still there and something like that'll burn like a firecracker.  We'll just grab some of the branches." 

Spike nodded absently and went to retrieve the trunk.  They walked outside and Xander quickly gathered an armful of cut limbs, the dried needles brown and scratchy, the resin still fragrant.  They walked across the grass to the bluff and climbed down.  A couple of times Xander steadied himself on Spike's outstretched hand, and then they were on the sand.  The water surged and foamed about twenty yards distant, glowing with phosphor.  The shivery rushing sound of it was loud here, confined by rocks and land, and Spike and Xander worked in silence, dragging driftwood up and constructing a pyre.  They built it far down the beach, near the tide line.  Xander pointed out that anything that didn't burn would be dragged away by the outgoing tide, and Spike liked that idea.  Finally they were done, and Spike set the flame of his Zippo to the bunched pine branches. 

Xander was right.  They burned very, very well.

 

 

 

The last of the trunk was cinder and char.  Black butterflies of ash swirled and danced upward on the breeze and Spike rose from his crouch and nodded to Xander.  They walked slowly back to the house and the light in the kitchen seemed unreal and too bright to Xander.  He considered for a moment, then got out his stash of candles.   He'd gotten a whole box cheap at a yard sale, and now he set a couple on the kitchen table and lit them, turning out the overhead light.  He carried one into the bedroom as well, and the bathroom, then returned to the kitchen.  Spike was leaning against the counter drinking a beer, and Xander got one, too.  He felt - confined - in the house.  He wanted to be back under the stars.  Watching the trunk burn on the beach had made his heart surge wildly in him.  Hope, that Spike was letting the past go - letting Dru go.  Hope that Spike could be his, maybe.  Somehow.  He picked up the boom box and made a little gesture with his hands.

"I'm going to sit outside.  I just - don't feel like being indoors right now.  Want to join me?"

Spike looked up from studying the label on his beer and nodded.   He followed Xander out, a cigarette in his fingers, leaving his empty bottle behind.

They went out onto the back porch and sat on the top step.  The moon hung low and coppery off the shoulder of the bluff, and the surf boomed and hissed, glimmering like fairy-dust out on the horizon.  The salt tang of it made the night air seem cooler, and Xander shivered a little.  He set the boom box down and switched it on, scanning the stations until he found the 'oldie's' one that could be counted on to play quiet, soothing stuff.  There was a moment of static-y silence, and then low horns, slow and sultry, began to wind out into the darkness.

Xander didn't know the tune - hardly knew the music.  It made him think of black-and-white movies, men in tuxes and women in floaty, feathered dresses.  But it obviously meant something to Spike whose hand paused in mid-air, his Zippo held open but unlit, his face gone blank with an unfamiliar look of surprise.  Xander barely heard the muttered 'Oh'.

And then the snick and flare of the Zippo, and a long breath in and out, smoke pluming upwards.  "Bloody hell.  Glenn Miller.  Haven't heard this...in ages."  He took another long drag off his cigarette, bare toes curling around the edge of the step, elbows on knees and his head sunk down a little, listening.  "Dru loved this - all this sentimental crap.  Listened to it for hours - Tommy Dorsey and Louis Armstrong and that other...Les Brown.  We was - we was listening to Miller when the bombs came, that first time..."

Spike's voice trailed off and Xander looked over at him, at the curve of his spine and the clenched fingers of his right hand digging into his bicep, the other holding the cigarette out to the side, away from Xander.

"Bombs?"

"Huh?  Oh - yeah.  Bombs.  The Blitz?" And in the face of Xander's puzzled look:  "That war you Yanks came in on 'bout fifty years ago, you know?" The words were sarcastic but the tone wasn't - not even remotely, and Xander nodded quickly, watching as Spike pulled on the cigarette again, the flare of the ember glittering in his eyes, hooding them.

"Yeah, ok, World War Two, I know that war, but - you didn't fight in it, did you?  I mean - what bombs?"

"The Blitz!  Christ, what do they teach in school these days?  September, 1940.  Me an' Dru were in London when the damn Jerries started rainin' down bombs on us.  It was the middle of the afternoon and we were stuck, see, in this house we'd - moved into.  I thought Dru'd just go barkin', you know, I thought she'd get - but she didn't." Spike sat up straighter and puffed for a moment on the cigarette, eyes looking off towards the moon but seeing - seeing bombs, Xander guessed, and his Dru.

"She cranked up the Vicki - the Victrola, you know - and put on some Glenn Miller and we - we danced.   And the bombs fell for two hours.  When we went out it was like a hell dimension.  Fire everywhere - people screamin'...   Just perfect for two blood-thirsty demons, eh?"  Spike smirked over at him, and Xander nodded, but Spike's voice had been...

"They started up again 'bout four hours later - went on all night.  Incendiary bombs, yeah?  Fire just - everywhere." His voice trailed off again and Xander didn't stop him when Spike reached over and took his beer out of his fingers.  He drained the last of it, and slipped the cigarette butt into the neck.  Xander heard the faint hiss as it was doused in the dregs of the beer.  The bottle clinked faintly as Spike set it aside.

"We thought - we'd stay, you know - people runnin' and screamin', chaos in the streets.  Never knew from one morning to the next if they'd have a house or a job or a neighbor.  You know what it's like, things goin' all to hell, everybody gets - friendly.  We got invited into more houses that night...  We stayed for a week, but those bombs - the fires burned all the time and it just got too dangerous.  Dru was lovin' it, but then, she'd go up to a burning house, stare at the flames - wanna dance.  I couldn't risk it - couldn't risk her.  All of The Smoke like one great charnel house an' me an' Dru dancin' to I'll Never Smile Again..." Spike laughed, but it was mirthless and rather strangled.   Xander watched as he felt absentmindedly for another smoke, patting at the nonexistent pockets of the duster he'd left in the house.

"I miss her.  I miss her - so bloody much."  Spike's voice broke over the last, and he turned his head away sharply, hunching down over his knees, both hands gripping so tight on his forearms that Xander expected to see blood well up.  His shoulders hitched a little, and Xander knew, at that moment, that if Spike would turn and look at him, there would be tears.  Tears streaking down from eyes wide and wounded as a child's.   

Another song started on the radio, and this one was a little familiar.  Xander had heard it somewhere - his grandma's house, maybe, or over at Willow's - he couldn't remember.  The woman's voice poured out, rich as cream, and Xander lifted his hand and stretched it out towards the trembling shoulder of the man - the demon? - beside him.  To the person, who was remembering love and loss, and crying for all the things that he couldn't have, any more. 

"See the pyramids along the Nile... watch the sunrise from a tropic isle..."

"Spike?" Xander whispered, and finally, finally, let his fingers come to rest lightly on those shoulder blades, that rose like little fledgling wings from the taut stretch of black t-shirt.  "Spike - c'mere." Xander stood up, stepping down onto the grass, holding his hand out.  Spike looked up at him and Xander's heart clenched tight and then resumed its rhythm with a hurtful thud as he saw there were, indeed, silvery tracks down the sharply sculpted cheeks, and eyes made black with pain.  Xander let his hand trail down shoulder and arm to Spike's hand, and he tugged at it, pulling Spike's hand away from his forearm, pulling him up onto his feet.

"Just remember darlin' all the while... You belong to me..."

"Come and dance with me," Xander whispered, his heart beating so hard, so fast, that he felt dizzy.  Spike's wounded stare went a little wider, and for a moment he resisted, and it was like tugging at a statue, no give at all.  *Please Spike, please, let me hold you, let me ...*   Spike's free hand came up and wiped at his face, impatiently obliterating the evidence of his pain.  And then he rose and came forward into Xander's arms, enfolding him.  Cool, hard arms going around Xander's waist, chest to chest, and his head sinking down onto Xander's shoulder.  Xander put his own arms around Spike's shoulders, letting his hands slide slowly up and down the slender, tense back, feeling the shuddery breath Spike took as they began to move, swaying ever so slowly to the music.

"See the market place in Old Algiers... Send me photographs and souvenirs...
Just remember when a dream appears... You belong to me..."

"I loved her for so long.  I gave her - gave her my heart.  Gave her everythin'...why..."   Spike's grip tightened, and Xander felt dampness on his shoulder, felt the cool drafts of unneeded, hitching breaths and let his chin and cheek settle onto the sleek blonde head.  He rubbed a little, humming with the music under his breath.  He could say - nothing.  What could he say, to a hundred-years love that had flared so brightly and then burnt itself out in the crucible of the Hellmouth?  What could soothe - what could comfort a demon - a demon who cried *just like a real boy* Xander thought inanely - tears bitter with loneliness and heartbreak and desolation. 

"I'll be so alone without you... Maybe you'll be lonesome too, and blue...
Fly the ocean in a silver plane... See the jungle when it's wet with rain...
Just remember 'til you're home again... You belong to me... "

Xander listened to the words, shuffling his feat in the damp, cool grass, aware for the first time of the strange picture they must make.  But he didn't care.  He remembered that first kiss, weeks ago, that had loosed the first little piece of armor he wore over his heart - started the shattering process that had cut him until he bled, inside...  And now.  His heart raw and aching with need.   The last couple of days - everything that had happened - had made it that much more urgent. 

*I love...oh god.  Love him*   All he wanted was to whisper those secret words aloud.  To tell Spike what was there, under that pale cheek - the emotions fluttering and leaping at the bones of Xander's chest as wildly as caged birds.   He shut his eyes and pulled Spike a little closer; turned his head just enough, and kissed the stiff, blonde hair.  Then just let his mouth rest there. 

He felt Spike shudder all over - felt him shift a little, and pull back, and Xander was staring down into eyes full of confusion and hurt; full of the reflected light of the moon and of a desperate wondering.   He let his head go forward, so slowly, letting their foreheads touch lightly.  Spike's face blurred in his vision and he shut his eyes and tipped his head, just a little, and let his cheek roll over onto Spike's - let their noses bump a little and then... lips, so lightly. 

The wings in his chest beat and beat, and surely it was deafening to Spike, who could hear a heartbeat across a room.  Xander pressed his lips a little more into Spike's, wanting...but going slow, so slow.  So that there would be no - pressure.  If Spike said no - if he pulled away again...   Xander didn't want to think about that, couldn't think about that.  He opened his mouth, just a little, just enough, and felt a flash like lightning from mouth to groin as Spike's tongue touched his lips.  The cool, wet tip of it traced along Xander's lower lip, tickling a little, then flicked to his upper lip, just brushing along the outside.  Then more, as Spike pushed a little past, his tongue fluttering along Xander's teeth, dipping in a little further.  Xander sighed into the kiss, shivering, and suddenly he couldn't wait, couldn't not do it, and he opened his mouth wider and let his own tongue come forward to taste; tobacco and beer and blood and...something.  That something that he'd dreamed about, thought about, for weeks.  That strange, rich spice that was just Spike.   Xander went deeper, his breath coming hard through his nose and suddenly Spike was holding him, so tight he couldn't move; crushing them together, deepening their kiss until their teeth clicked together - until Xander felt his lips bruising.  But he didn't care, he didn't care.  He kissed Spike back as hard as he could, trying to imprint himself onto the other, trying to say with breathy little moans and slick, dancing tongue what his head - what his heart - couldn't.   Spike broke away finally, pulling back sharply and looking into Xander's eyes - searching the mortal's face, his own closed and wary, lips a little swollen.

"Do you - what do you -"

"Come inside with me," Xander whispered.  He put one hand up, to cradle the cool, sharp planes of Spike's face, letting his thumb rub along Spike's lower lip.  "Please..." he said, and Spike kissed him again, fleetingly, hard.  Took his hand and led him away up the steps and through the kitchen to the bedroom, where the heavy curtains blocked the setting moon and the lone candle flame, guttering in dusky-red wax, sent strange shadows dancing up the walls.  Faintly, the sounds of the radio - a sultry blues - came through the screen door, and Spike enfolded him again.  Lips cool and devouring, his hands tugging at Xander's t-shirt, chilled fingers ghosting up Xander's back to his shoulders, curling over them and pulling them together.  Xander did the same, letting his fingers glide up ribcage and pectoral, around to spine and shoulder blades, mapping the bones and muscle.  His hands learning Spike's body as his tongue learned Spike's mouth.  

Spike pushed at the hem of Xander's shirt, and Xander swayed back a little, letting him pull it up and off, his own hands suddenly clumsy as they fumbled at Spike's shirt.  Finally it was off, and Spike ducked his head down to trail slow kisses from Xander's shoulder to collar bone to throat, leaving chill little wet marks behind, his tongue rasping and tasting like a cats.  Xander caught Spike's belt-loops and pulled him close, gasping a little as their groins met and each felt the other's hardness for the first time.   Spike nipped at the point of Xander's jaw, nibbled along his jaw line and then was back at Xander's mouth.  Xander sucked Spike's lower lip into his mouth - licking it, tasting it - and his fingers moved away somewhere below, feeling as if they were not even attached to his hands as he undid the buckle of Spike's belt and then began to undo the jeans.  They were trembling, those strange, independent fingers - trembling with need and utter terror.  Xander got the zipper undone, and then lifted his hands to Spike's hips, letting those clever fingers - *like mice, like little mice* Xander thought - caress the arch of hipbone, and dip under the waistband of the jeans. 

 Spike's mouth left Xander's again and trailed downward, chin and throat and sternum, nibbling little kisses with the occasional edge of tooth, the soft lap of tongue.  Xander gasped softly as Spike found his nipple, and his hands pushed suddenly on Spike's jeans, easing them down over the narrow hips, freeing the trapped length of Spike's erection so that Xander felt it push wetly at his wrist.  He pushed at Spike, urging him back, and Spike did a little staggering hop, getting the jeans off his feet.  Xander guided him to the bed and pushed him down onto it.   Spike fell in an elegant sprawl, left leg straight out, right leg bent, elbows braced behind him and his chin tucked down to his chest.  He regarded Xander through his lashes, his chest heaving in unnecessary little pants.  Xander stood for a moment just looking, taking in the lean, long lines of the body laid out before him - a body cleanly muscled, angled and arched as a greyhound.  The candle lit golden sparks in Spike's eyes, and Xander put his own hands to his jeans, undoing them and pushing them off along with his underwear, kicking them away.  The wet sensation on his wrist persisted and he unconsciously lifted it to his mouth and licked.  The taste tingled through him like the first kiss - the spice-salt taste of Spike, trailed there by the tip of his cock.  Spike's nostrils flared, scenting, and Xander knew what he was smelling - felt the heavy pulse of want in his cock, and the cool leak of fluid at the tip.  He knelt down on the edge of the bed, between Spike's legs, and crawled slowly up.  When they were face to face, Xander dipped down to kiss, giving Spike the taste of himself on Xander's tongue.  Then he moved down slowly, tasting each bit of flesh as he came to it; nibbling and licking, sucking hardened nipples and stroking his hands down Spike's ribs and up along his shoulders.  He pushed Spike flat and trailed his hands down the cool arms until their hands were entwined, and then he nuzzled into the silky skin of Spike's belly, licking out to a hipbone, sucking hard on the hollow just under it.  The thin flesh reddened and then bruised under his lips and teeth. 

Spike was panting aloud now, soft ohs and sighs coming from him as Xander buried his face into the crease of hip and thigh and breathed deeply of Spike's scent, subtle and delicious, that had teased him from a distance for months - spice, leather, smoke.  Spike's hands clenched in his, and Xander pulled both hands to his mouth, kissing Spike's knuckles and slipping his tongue between the fingers, then letting them go so he could slide his hands under Spike's thighs and grasp his cool flanks. 

Spike arched up under him, gasping, when Xander's mouth engulfed the cool flesh of his cock.  Xander took the head into his mouth, sucking the drops of fluid there, rolling them over his tongue, breathing deeply as the scent intensified and Spike shivered under him.  Xander pulled as much as he could into his mouth, sucking, licking, letting his teeth graze lightly, lightly up the shaft, then releasing him to go lower and lick and mouth the silky weight of the scrotum, holding it in his mouth as Spike's hips undulated, and his thighs fell open further.  Xander moved up again, back to Spike's cock, licking up the underside, taking it in his mouth once again, his fingers stroking over Spike's belly and feeling the muscles tense and release, satin over sculpted steel.

Spike moaned aloud.  He tangled his hands in Xander's hair, stroking his fingers through and through the dark strands.  As Xander pulled away, bringing his mouth to the very tip of Spike's cock, the vampire tugged a little, insistent, and Xander willingly went with him, slithering up the cool body to sink into more kisses, Spike's hands at the back of his head, at the nape of his neck.  Spike arched up, into Xander, and their cocks slid together, bumping and rubbing; not enough friction to get either off but a delicious, shivery sensation that served to ratchet their arousal upward a few more notches.   Xander writhed over Spike, his hand clutching a firm buttock, the other on Spike's back, pressing him closer.  He slipped one leg over Spike's hip and pressed down, and Spike arched up hard, shuddering.

"Spike - would you - I want -" Xander struggled to speak; breathless, near mindless, the feel of cool satin skin and flickering tongue stealing his thoughts away.  He wanted - so badly - to feel Spike on him - within him.  He wanted to feel - consumed, taken, wanted - and Spike...was it.  Was all.  Was the one who could anchor him, with his body and his need and his desire.  Anchor his soul to him, that felt as if it were slipping out of him sometimes, adrift on seas of darkness.

"What, pet, what do you want?" The blue eyes were dark and wide - so serious, so wary. 

Xander closed his own eyes for moment and gathered his fraying thoughts.  "I want - I want you to be inside me.  I want to feel you there - want you to feel me..."

Spike kissed him, soft little presses of his lips, his hands sliding down to cup Xander's buttocks and pull him close.  "I want to - I will -" Spike breathed, and twisted, turning them both so that Xander lay on his back.  He brought both legs up, pressing his thighs against Spike's ribs, his hands running up Spike's arms to pull him down for another, deeper kiss.

"Need somethin', don't wanna - oh - don't wanna hurt you."

"Yeah...drawer..." Xander watched Spike lean and stretch to the bedside table, yank open the drawer and feel inside, then settle back on him with the tube in his hand.  

"You ever -"

"Yeah.  This summer - please..." Xander arched against Spike and groaned softly when Spike knelt up away from him.  Spike put one hand flat on Xander's chest, his eyes glimmering like a cat's.

"Then it has to be slow, you know that."  Spike's other hand flicked open the top of the tube, and he squeezed a large dollop of clear lube onto Xander's cock.  His fingers dabbled in it then slipped lower, to rub along Xander's perineum and then slide further down.  Xander sighed and shifted, knowing that going too fast meant it would hurt, but wanting Spike to hurry  *oh, please hurry*. 

Spike began to rub lazy circles across Xander's chest, pinching his nipples, scratching lightly down Xander's ribs.  He echoed the circles with his other hand, rubbing the tight muscle there, pushing a fingertip slightly in and then retreating.  It seemed to go on for hours, those teasing touches, but finally Spike's fingers were pushing deeply in, two and then three, leisurely fucking Xander into a frenzy.  Xander dug his heels into Spike's back, urging him forward, his hands knotted in the sheet.

"Please, please... need y-you..." he rasped, and Spike scooped up a last bit of lube and began to spread it over his own cock, his hips already moving in shallow thrusts.

"Tell me, tell me what you need..." Spike whispered, and then the head of his cock was pushing - was in, and Xander shuddered all over.  Spike curled down over him, barely moving, letting himself go forward the barest inch.  His mouth covered Xander's in a fierce kiss and then he was whispering in Xander's ear, his tongue tickling the whorls and curves of it, his teeth worrying at Xander's earlobe.

"Tell me."

"Oh, I... oh... I need - to f-feel it, to see you...   Ssspike, do you see me?"

Spike edged forward another inch, his hands iron on Xander's hips.  He swayed fractionally upright, meeting Xander's desperate stare.  "'Course I see you..." his silken voice was puzzled, and Xander moaned and tried to thrust up on him, thwarted by the slim, strong hands.

"Tell me - what you see.  Tell me - make me real, Spike - m-make me real..."

A long pause, and then:  "I'll make you real."  Spike's eyes were golden now - demon's eyes, and his voice had roughened to a throaty growl.  He slid in a little deeper and when Xander gasped and urged him forward with heels and thighs, he finally pushed all the way in, one long glide that sent fire through Xander's groin and up his spine.  Spike began a slow and rhythmic thrusting, and he kissed and nibbled at Xander's mouth and throat as he spoke.

"I see you.   Demonslayer...builder... knight in patchwork armor... oohhh..." Spike began to thrust faster, his kisses becoming harder and his teeth biting now, little stings all over.  Xander pulled him closer, his hands curling around Spike's back and his nails scoring into the damask skin.  Spike shifted, angling a little differently, and Xander gasped, writhing, the vampire just hitting that spot, inside, that felt...oh, felt good.

"You are... lover...brother...strong right arm...you are... s-sunlight... hearth fire... oh gods..." Spike crushed them together, Xander's legs tight around his ribs, Xander's hands pulling his head down to kiss him and kiss him between breathy moans and soft cries.   Spike thrust hard and harder, unmindful that he was bruising the mortal beneath him, his senses overloading as Xander's heart raced and his blood rose, the scent and sound of it intoxicating.  Xander felt the change; felt the canines in Spike's mouth like a great cat, felt the sudden rigidity of the demonic face against his cheek and forehead.   Xander arched and thrust back as hard as he could, welcoming the frenzied pace, the bruising hands.  Marking him, making him real, making him...other then he was, before.  Spike arched away suddenly, thrusting ferociously, his mouth open in a soundless roar, and Xander snaked his hand down and grasped his own cock and stroked himself once, twice...and then he was coming, something like fire and something like ice sizzling over him.  As his body tightened convulsively around Spike the vampire reached orgasm also, pressing so hard into Xander that Xander almost screamed.  He could feel the cool jets in his body as Spike emptied himself, and his own hotter seed across his hand and stomach.  

Spike stayed upright for a moment, locked into the arch, his belly heaving.  Xander pushed one hand back through his hair, lifting it off his sweaty forehead, and then Spike was coming back to him, human again, laying over him and wrapping his arms around Xander, and Xander let his legs fall limply aside, his fingers stroking down Spike's back in languid strokes.  They just rested a moment, Xander catching his breath, Spike stopping his altogether.

Xander felt Spike kiss his throat, the top of his shoulder, and he rubbed his cheek against Spike's hair.  "Hey, no fair," Xander said, and Spike lifted his head and looked at him.

"What's no fair?"

"Your hair's still perfect," Xander said, and Spike snorted, grinning. 

"That's 'cause I'm evil.  Us evil types always look good, no matter what."

"Oh yeah, part of the whole package - bloodlust, psychotic tendencies, perfect hair.  I guess it's the whole broody poufter thing that screws Angel over, huh?"

Spike laughed outright, and darted in for a quick kiss.  "Guess so." Xander stretched up for another kiss, and for a while they were silent, kissing each other slowly, content to just lie there.   After a few moments Spike slipped free of Xander's body and they both shivered at that loss of connection.   Spike shifted, sliding off Xander a little so that he was only draped over half of him, and he leaned his chin on Xander's chest, looking at him curiously.

"So - Xander.  Tell me.  What was that all about then, eh?  Why did you...why d'you think you're not...real?"

Xander smiled at him, even though he heart was starting to thump uncomfortably fast.  Something else he'd never told anyone.   "Long story," he warned, jokingly, and Spike nodded at him.  "Oookay.  Umm.  This summer right after graduation - I decided a little road trip was in order.  Remember me telling you?  Get out of Sunnyhell, see the sights, have some fun before I locked myself into lower-middle-class drudgery.  I was gonna drive to every state.   I got as far as Oxnard, and my car - kinda blew up.  In the most unspectacular way possible, I might add." Spike raised his eyebrows at him, the smirk just curling his lips, and Xander poked him in the ribs.

"Don't say it.  I know.  It's me all over.  It was a crazy trip.  I almost bailed right then - I had enough money for a bus ticket back, and I thought really seriously about just coming back here.  'Cause I'd realized something.  I'd realized I was alone."

This time a snort of amusement from the vampire, and Xander rolled, pinning Spike beneath him and doing a little hip-wiggle thing that wiped the amusement away.  "Now hush and let me tell you.  It just hadn't hit me until I was sitting in this greasy spoon, having the cheapest meal I could and wondering what to do next.  I turned to make some comment to Willow and realized she wasn't there.  And then I realized Buffy wasn't there.  And if I said anything people would think I was nuts.  But - I hadn't actually been alone up until then.  You know? It was...  "

"Right," Spike said, and some of the earlier darkness had come back into his eyes.  "Right, I know."

"Yeah.  It really freaked me out.  I went over and stared at bus schedules for half an hour.  And then I just - stopped.  I decided I wanted to be alone.  I wanted to try it.  I was probably safer in Oxnard then here, anyway, and I just - wanted to see what I could do on my own.  So I hunted around and got a job at this... this strip club -"

"Strip club?  Oh my, do tell -"

"As a dishwasher, Spike, clean up those dirty thoughts." Xander wriggled again, doing a pelvic roll he actually had learned at the 'Fabulous Ladies Night Club' and giggled a little when Spike's eyes went wide and then narrowed in speculation.

"My dirty thoughts -"

"Shhhh.  Listen." Xander grinned at him.  "I washed dishes.  I rented this - well, they called it a trailer but really it was just this little RV whose wheels had rotted off.  I went for walks and I met people and I helped my landlord fix some stuff around his house and the club...  I really - liked it.  Even got promoted to bartender.  Nobody knew...well, nobody knew anything, you know?  About me - where I was from, what I'd done.  It was great.  I was just - myself.  And the best part..." Xander stopped and lay his head down on Spike's chest, his fingers absently caressing a pale nipple, smiling when he felt Spike's ribs hitch a little with a surprised breath.

"The best part was, I was liked.  They liked me.  The real me.  I never felt so..."

"Happy?" Spike asked softly, and Xander lifted his head and looked up at him, smiling gently. 

"Yeah.  Happy."

"So.  I'm guessin' part of this happiness was your - experience with this sort of thing." Spike put both hands on Xander's buttocks and squeezed, and Xander responded by flicking his tongue out over the same nipple. 

"Surprise. I started hanging out with one of the dancers.  At first, because he had a TV and a bunch of movies on DVD.  We had movie nights and it was a lot of fun.  Then I started hanging out with him before work, and then we had a few - well, dates - and one night I just didn't go home." Xander kissed Spike's sternum, one nipple and the other, thinking about his dancer - Thomas Ironbear.  Tall and lean with long black hair, half Lakota and half Chinese.  The most exotic person he'd ever met.  Almost the sexiest. 

"Mmmmmm..." Xander rolled his hips again, looking up into Spike's face and seeing a fleeting expression he couldn't quite place.   "So, I had a job, a boyfriend, and something like a life.  A really great three months, give or take.  Then one night..." Xander frowned, and abruptly rolled off Spike.  He took the vampire's cool hand in both of his and held it to his chest, staring hard at the shadow-daubed ceiling.  "I helped close the club, and Thomas and I were walking home, and we were being a little...touchy-feely in the street.  And out of nowhere this truck roars up, and four guys jump out, and next thing you know we're fighting for our lives..."  Spike's hand gripped his tight, and Xander glanced over at him, seeing the glare of golden eyes, lips curling back in a snarl. 

*What is he...?* 

*Pack* 

Xander tried a small smile and Spike blinked, his eyes going back to blue.    "Well, we lived, obviously.  I got bashed around a bit, but you know, being from here really came in handy.  Thomas wasn't quite as lucky - he got some ribs broken, broke his wrist.   A cop came by and those guys drove off...  It really fucked with Thomas.  He'd been up and down the coast, in a lot of big cities.   Never had a problem like that - I mean, people had said some things but he'd never been attacked.  It scared him.  And of course, he couldn't work.  His mom lived up in Eugene, and when they released him from the hospital he went up there.  He asked me to go with him but...I just couldn't.  I -"

"You missed life on the Hellmouth so much, I know," Spike said, and his voice was joking, but Xander propped himself up on his elbow, curling his arm around Spike's so that they were forearm to forearm, Spike's hand pressed to his mouth.  He kissed Spike's knuckles, the back of his hand.

"I dunno what I missed.  Something.  But I just couldn't go with him.  So I didn't.  I came back."

"Soooo..."  Spike pulled Xander back over onto him, settling Xander between his legs, their hips fitting together nicely.  Spike was mostly hard and Xander was half-way there, and Spike started a gentle rocking, his hands stroking down Xander's back and over his buttocks, up and back, again and again.

"How does this all make you...unreal?" he murmured, nuzzling into Xander's neck, breathing his scent in, tasting his skin.

"It...oh...ummmm..."  Xander did the same, mouthing the juncture of neck and shoulder; nibbling little kisses that made Spike shiver.  *Ooh...knew that would be a good spot.  He likes that...*

"I was myself up there.   Finally.  I wasn't - pretending anything or hiding anything...mmmm... And when I - when I came back it all...started all over again.  Be - tag-along guy, be - goofy...  I couldn't.   I just could not.  Not after all that.  Not after - after Jack, and what he gave me."

Spike rolled them again, pushing himself up and straddling Xander's hips.  He pressed their cocks together, rubbing and stroking, and reached for the lube with his other hand.  Xander watched him, hands on Spike's hips.  "Right, your gift," Spike murmured.   He squeezed out more lube onto Xander's cock, and guided Xander's hand to it.   "Want you in me, now," he whispered, and Xander nodded, his breathing speeding up as he watched Spike's face. 

He slipped his hand between them, trailing lube, preparing Spike's body for his own.    "I'm not real to them.  I see everything - all so different now and...I just can't connect, and I can't ignore the bullshit anymore.  They don't much like it.  But..."  Spike made a breathy whimpering noise as Xander slipped a second finger in and his body clenched down hard.

"Oh...now..." he rasped, and Xander withdrew, pulling his knees up so Spike had something to brace against.  He took his own cock in his hand and held it steady as Spike lifted himself and then hovered there, just resting himself on the tip of Xander's cock.  "They don't like it, pet.  I've noticed."

"And I don't care, I just don't care, anymore...Ssspike, please..." Spike grinned at him, then all at once pushed himself down, engulfing Xander in cool, tight flesh, and Xander arched up to meet him, groaning aloud at the incredible feel of it; the fleshy glove slipping down over him.  Spike leaned back against Xander's legs, his arms behind him, hands curled around Xander's ankles.  He began to move, up and down, slowly, and Xander moved opposite, trying to go faster, harder.  But Spike effortlessly controlled them both, and Xander lay panting with need, hands on Spike's hips.

"You're real - you are, I see you, I feel you...  Oh...  I feel you..."  Spike started to go faster, rougher, and Xander pushed himself up, propping on elbows and then hands, stretching up to Spike to kiss him, letting his legs go flat on the bed.  The vampire put an arm around him, holding him close, pulling them into a position only his greater strength made possible.  Spike rested his forehead on Xander's and shifted a little and began to work himself in earnest on Xander's cock, bending down to kiss him and then tearing away to gasp needlessly, deeply, his eyes wide and dark and looking straight into Xander's.  Xander reached between them and took Spike's still-slippery cock in his hand and stroked the vampire as fast and as hard, gasping himself now, groaning down in his throat, lost in the feel of it, the clinging glide of Spike's body, his lips on Xander's throat.  They strained and shivered together, mindless, and Xander felt his body tingling, singing, as his orgasm rushed through him.  He heard himself making some sort of sound - a keening sort of cry, and Spike's eyes were suddenly locked onto his, and Spike was himself stiffening into ecstasy,  his eyes wide and golden, unblinking, seeing him.  A moment after Xander came, Spike did too, and they both shuddered to a stop, leaning against each other, Spike's breathing slowing and then stopping altogether, Xander gasping into Spike's chest.  He flopped back onto the bed, both of them twitching a little at the change of angle, and Spike put his hands on Xander's chest and rolled his hips once, grinning. 

"You wish," Xander said, careful to keep his sticky hands off the sheets.  "I dunno about you, but I want a shower.  And a drink.  And damnit, your hair -"

"You can mess it up in the shower."  Spike swooped down and kissed him, then lifted and swung off in one move.  He headed towards the kitchen, and Xander heard the rustle of leather as he searched his duster for cigarettes.  He came back to the bedroom as Xander sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed.  Xander stood up and wobbled a little, legs weak.

"Whoa." He leaned on the dresser for a minute while Spike found the borrowed jeans and dug his Zippo out.

"Another perk to bein' evil.  I can shag you 'til you're dizzy."

"One more in the plus column.  Maybe I should reconsider my attitude about being turned." Spike laughed, flicking his lighter open, drawing the smoke in deeply as Xander headed for the shower. 

He did mess Spike's hair up in the shower.  He shampooed until every trace of gel was gone and then ran his fingers through it again and again, making it stick out wildly, pulling some of it down over Spike's forehead and laughing when Spike growled at him.

Afterward they sprawled naked on the kitchen chairs.  Xander brought the boom box in from the porch and the radio softly played swing and jazz, big band and blues.  Spike talked about some of the music - about listening to this or that song with Dru, what they'd been doing.  His voice took on a fond tone, remembering, and Xander hoped he was feeling a little less of the crushing grief and just being happy, talking about his girl.  Two beers down, one soda, about six cigarettes, and Xander stood and stretched hard, reaching towards the ceiling and arching his back until it crackled.  He relaxed out of the stretch to find Spike's gaze on him, hot and wanting.  Spike reached out and pulled Xander close and Xander sat in his lap, straddling his hips, groin to groin.  He fluffed Spike's hair, which had dried in loose, tumbled waves.

"You look like somebody out of a manga.  Some rock star -slash -warrior- slash -tortured lover.   It's cute."

"The evil undead are never cute.  Devastatingly sexy...smolderingly good-looking...even cool... but never...ever...cute." Spike punctuated his speech with little kisses over Xander's chest and shoulders, and Xander closed his eyes for a moment, shivering.

"Right.  Never cute.  C'mon, let's go back to bed." He stood up and held out his hand, smiling, and Spike took it and went with him, into the dim cave of the bedroom; scent of sex and smoke and the faintly rose-scented candle.  The radio played on, My Blue Heaven, and westward, far out over the sea, lightning flickered silently.

 

 

 

Spike woke with a start, dreaming; confused for a moment by the heat and weight pressing all along his right side.  Then Xander moved a little, murmuring, and Spike relaxed.  In Xander's bed, in his arms.  Warm, and sated and for the moment, at peace.  A very faint light came through from the kitchen, and Spike slid easily out from under Xander and ghosted out of the bedroom.  False dawn made the sky palely green and yellow, but the whole of the western horizon was a dark, slatey blue - a storm moving in.  Thunder growled, distant as yet, and a silent streak of pinkish lightning lit the underbelly of the clouds.  Spike smelled the rain coming - ozone and wet earth, clean and rich.  He pushed open the screen door and leaned in the doorway, smoking; watching the clouds advance. 

He wondered if Xander would notice he was gone - wondered if the boy would get up.  He really wondered, with an inner smirk that tried to belie the knot in his belly, if Xander would be at all pleased to see him, naked in his kitchen, the bruises and suck-marks of sex dappling his body. 

The first month or so that Spike had been around, Xander had all but ignored him - when he wasn't saying something obnoxious, or cutting.  But that had changed.  Something had happened, and Xander had started to...  Well, had started to see him.  To notice him in ways other then as an annoyance or an enemy.  When Giles had pushed him off onto Xander, insisting that he couldn't keep Spike with him anymore, Xander had ducked his head and frowned a little, but he hadn't protested.  And when Spike had gotten there, that first night, and Xander had run down the 'rules of the house', they hadn't been remotely like Gile's rules.  Nothing about leaving bloody mugs sitting around or a long list of things he mustn't touch.  They'd been about staying quiet so Xander's parents wouldn't know he was there, and not running out all the hot water, and turning off the sink in the kitchenette gently, because it was about to break and really, they didn't want water spraying all over everything. The kind of rules you told - anybody.  Just a mate, over to stay, so watch out for the broken step and don't wake up the folks.   And then the last thing - the thing that had shocked Spike to his core.  Xander had asked - asked - about his food.   About blood.  Asked him how much he actually needed.  Spike had grinned at him, thinking to fluster him with his answer.

 

 

 

"Well, you have about 12 pints in you, boy, so I'd need one of you every couple days or so.  Vampire's are like big cats - don't have to eat every day, if we get enough at one...feeding." Xander just looks at him - not in horror, or even squeamishly, but in speculation, and Spike looks away suddenly, knowing what Xander is seeing.  He's thin, now - almost gaunt - and the bruises and cuts from fighting - and from the Slayer taking a swing at him almost daily - just aren't healing all that quickly.  Animal blood just didn't work as well, and the constant hunger that twists in his gut makes him almost crazy.  Makes him snappish and anxious.  Then Xander really shocks him.

"It should be human blood, shouldn't it?  I mean - you can't really live off pigs and cows, can you?"

"Not really."  Spike answers without thinking, and Xander just nods and gathers up keys and wallet, preparing to go out. 

"Come on then.  I gotta get supplies, and I think you should help carry them."   Spike just stands there, his mind a whirl of confusion.   

*What is he - what's he playing at?  Doesn't he mean to -*   "You're not going to tie me up?" he blurts, and curses himself. *Stupid, stupid, don't give him any ideas...*

But Xander just looks at him, serious and steady, a small frown drawing his brows together, the keys jingling nervously in his hand.  "No, I'm not.  You - you're not a child, and you're not an animal, no matter what Giles and Buffy say.  I know I can't - I can't trust you, not really.  But you don't want to die anymore then I do, so I'm going to believe that your instinct for self-preservation will override any really stupid impulses you might have.  We are not -" and here, Xander steps forward and pokes a hard finger into Spike's chest.  "I repeat not telling Giles or Buffy about this.  I don't need to hear it from them, and what they don't know won't hurt them.  You behave, and we'll - get along.  I have to live here, too, and to be honest I can't live here with someone tied up in a chair all day.  It...kinda freaks me out.  So - can we do this?" 

Spike stares at the mortal boy *really almost a man* - stares into earnest and wary eyes in a frowning face, and smells the nerves and the fear coming off him.  He snarls a little at the poke - he can't not - but he nods, because this is hell and away better then being chained in a bathtub 

*Oh, gonna hurt the Watcher for that*

They walk out into the night, and the fear comes in, subtle and shrill.

*Don't own this anymore...not mine now...oh gods, can't do this ...can't do this.*   But he has to do it - has to be the Big Bad no matter what, because if he slips, even once, he's dead.  So he stalks along with this human - this white hat who seems a little...tarnished, maybe.  And ends up at the hospital, down in the basement where the morgue and the storage rooms are.  Xander walks confidently, threading his way through a maze of tan-and-pea-soup-green painted cinderblock.  He knocks at a door with biohazard symbols stuck all over it and a sign that said 'Incinerator'.  A young man - long hair in a lank ponytail and hospital scrubs looking a bit grubby at the edges - opens the door in a puff of pot-scented air and grins when he sees Xander.

"Hey man, thought you weren't coming."

"Just got a late start.  D'you have my stuff?"

"Sure man, yeah.  C'mon in here, quick."  The boy shoots nervous looks up and down the hallway and ushers them into the dim room.   The incinerator looms in one corner and various broken-down chairs and gurneys litter the edges of the room.  A medium-sized cooler sits on one gurney and Xander crosses to it and opens it.  Spike's eyes widen at the stack of bags inside - human blood, marked and dated, sitting on ice.  A lot of it - over a dozen bags.

"You're sure this is still okay- hasn't gone off?"

"Nah - we get rid of fuckin' gallons of the stuff, man - can only keep it for like a week or something...  This was all sent down here today, so - it'll be okay if you keep it cold."

"Great." Xander shuts the cooler, hoisting it off the gurney and handing it to Spike.  Then he reaches into his pocket for his wallet.  "Now - what'd we say - two bucks a bag, right?"

"No man - four  bucks.  C'mon, I could get fired over this."

"Right, four." Xander sighs and pokes through his wallet.  It actually has quite a bit of money in it. 

*Must have been payday or somethin',*   Spike thinks, looking at it.

Xander pulls out a hundred dollar bill, sighing again, and hands it over.   "Here Randy.  Four bucks extra.  I'll be back next week, same day, okay?"

"Yeah, same day, that's cool.  Here.  For the four bucks extra." Randy fishes in the pocket of his scrubs and pulls out a joint, handing it to Xander with a flourish.  

Xander eyes it suspiciously and takes it and tucks it away.  "Great, thanks.  See ya 'round, Randy.   And listen.  If I ever can't get here, then Spike'll be here for it, okay?  This is Spike." 

Randy nods at Spike, eyeing him curiously for a moment.  "Yeah, man, okay.  See ya." Randy grins down at his money and gives it a little kiss, waving it at Xander and Spike as they walk out.

"I know it's not enough, but I could only afford two people's worth, so you'll have to make up the rest with Porky Pig or whatever, okay?" Xander says, and Spike stops walking, staring at him. 

*What in bloody hell is going on?  Why is the boy being nice?  What does he want?  What's the catch…* Spike can't even get the questions out, and Xander turns around and walks back to him, impatience showing on his face.

"Spike.  Helloooo.  Gotta get home sometime soon, here.  You in there?"  Xander snaps his fingers in Spike's face and suddenly Spike lunges at him, demon to the fore - snarling.  Xander stumbles back and bangs into the wall, eyes wide.

"What the bloody hell are you playin' at, mate?  What are you - what is this?" Spike snaps, wincing at the crackle of incandescent pain that flares through his head.  *Fuckin' chip.*

"I'm - look, I'm just..."  Xander licks his lips, nervous, and then seems to resolve something in himself because he stands up straighter and pushes Spike back, stepping away from the wall.  "I'm not  playing at anything.  I told you.  You're not an animal.  You may not be a - person - like me or the gang but I don't get to starve you or...or hit you just because you're different and because you can't fight back.  You're helping  us - you helped Giles.   You're telling us what you can about those soldiers.   As far as I'm concerned, that makes you part of the gang, whether you want to be or not and whether you'll kill us all when you can or not.  I won't - I can't see the world in black and white anymore, and I won't.  This is - hospitality.  You're staying with me and I'll do what I can to make it...   Well, to make it bearable.  And you'll refrain from tearing up my place or being a total fucking bastard all the fucking time, ok?"

Xander has gotten in pretty close at the last, and Spike lets his human face return.  The heady scent of hot blood and fear and anger linger around Xander, mixing with his own, unique scent; sweetish and salty and warm. 

Spike looks down at the cooler in his hand, swinging it a little, then back up at Xander.  "You're right.  I'd kill you all if I could.  But - I can't.  So for now... pax.  All right?"

"What the hell does that mean?"

"Fuckin' hell, you Americans.  What did you do in school all day? Pax.  It means peace.  Right?"

Xander eyes him, as if not sure that peace with a vampire is all right no matter how much easier it makes life, but finally he nods.  "Okay.  P-pax.  And then we've got to figure out a way for you to make some money, 'cause I'm not gonna be broke all the time."  Xander turns and walks away and Spike follows behind, smirking a little, patting down pockets for a cigarette.  Bloody pax, indeed.  Maybe the boy is telling the truth, though.  Spike has a cooler full of human blood to help convince him.

"Not like I can go work at the local five and dime, boy.  My options are somewhat bloody limited, just now."

"Yeah, whatever.  I gotta get a better fuckin' job."  Xander continues to grumble to himself as they retrace their path to the exit.  They finally make it out of the seemingly endless corridors of the hospital and Spike walks along almost jauntily, looking forward to a meal of human blood.  And of finding out just what the hell is up with his human.

 

 

 

Spike flicked the ember off his cigarette and tossed the butt into the kitchen trash.  The storm clouds were overhead now, and rain began to fall, pattering lightly at first but rapidly getting heavier and harder.  *How'd I get here so fast?  From 'I'll kill you but pax for now' to...this?   He kissed me, and he took care of me when those bloody soldiers...  Told me his secrets, he did.  Is that enough, though?  Last night I...I let Dru go.   And he...sees me.  Knows me.  Still wants me.  Makes me feel...*  Spike moved out of the doorway, pulling the screen door shut and shivering a little as random raindrops spattered him.  He pushed the main door closed and heard the toilet flushing in the back of the house.  A moment later Xander stumbled into the kitchen, yawning.  The radio was playing Louis Armstrong now.

"Isitrainin' ?" Xander mumbled, pulling open the refrigerator door and peering inside.  He grabbed a jug of grape juice and took a long swig, eyes shut.

"Yeah - rainin'.   Lightning and thunder, even."

"Di'nt hear any." Xander stood staring at Spike, the grape juice forgotten for a moment, and then he shook himself a little and put it away, yawning again.  "What're you doin' up?" he said, and came close to Spike, one hand reaching out to touch the mark he'd made on Spike's hip, fingertips just ghosting over it.  Spike shuddered.

"Wanted a smoke.  Guess I should -"

"Come back to bed, Spike." Xander looked at him, dark eyes wide and solemn - a little frightened maybe.  Not of him, Spike realized; not of what had happened.  But of...what Spike might say.  What he might do. 

"I see friends shakin' hands, sayin'  "How do you do?"...
They're really sayin'  "I love you"...  And I think to myself...
What a wonderful world..."  

Louis sang, and Spike smiled and took Xander's hand, and they went away back into the bedroom.

 

 

 

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Patsy Cline - You Belong To Me
Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World